Governance, Environment and Socio-Economic Imperatives
Edited by François Gipouloux
Chapter 1: Introduction
Since the Middle Ages in Europe, the city has been primarily a legal concept, associated with the idea of autonomy and freedom. This has not been the case in China. There, the city has been devised to express the majesty of power, and the urban network that extends throughout the territory responded primarily to administrative, religious, geomantic and military concerns (Li, X., 2008). Towns developed under business logic without really challenging this policy. The urban perimeter included many rural areas, for food safety reasons. This legacy is still visible today. After a long stagnation during the 1958–78 decades, accelerated urbanization at work since the mid-1980s has been characterized by the interweaving of issues specific to economic reforms undertaken after Deng’s return to power: the complex relationships of conflict and bargaining between central and local governments; the reform of property rights (1988), which allowed access to housing for millions of urban residents; and finally, the tax-sharing system (1994), which governs the financing of urban infrastructure and the extension of social security coverage.